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PACE 2017 - Refreshing Memories of Alma Mater

Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 10:25 Hrs  [IST]

Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa, New Delhi is one of the premier hotel management institutes under the National Council of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (NCHMCT), which has produced innumerable hotel industry professionals since its inception in the 60’s. Although, the number of hotel management and catering institutes from a handful to thousands in the last decades, the Pusa institute continues to lead the hospitality industry of the country even today. Today, the leading hotel companies of India and the world have Pusa alumni at the helm or at various decision making positions.

“This year we have five leading hotel companies in India represented by alumni of the Pusa institute as CEO or COO positions,” said Mandeep S Lamba, President of PIHMAA. From the Oberoi’s to the Taj, Carlson Rezidor Hotels, to ITC and the Marriott, all these have Pusa alumni at the senior positions, he said. “This is our main annual event for the association, where we get the industry together largely for networking and also to catch up with the leadership in the industry. Clearly, the role of PIHMAA is to help the institute further build its brand equity and, of course, help the alumni to further their career aspirations,” he added.

The alumni meet started with a keynote by eminent writer, columnist and management guru, Suhel Seth. In a keynote filled with pun and some serious thoughts, he asked Indian hotel industry to espouse the spirit of Indian-ness rather than trying to ape the West. “Hospitality Industry of India should reflect Indian-ness and the Indian way of life,” he said. While a lot of forces are trying to divide the country, the hospitality industry should try to “celebrate our way of life”. Indian-ness lives in its diversity and that is our strength and beauty, Seth added.

He asked hoteliers to learn to celebrate our history, heritage in its varied aspects, including our cuisines. Globally, chefs are going back to the regional food. Countries of the world like Greece, France, and even the US are celebrating their history and heritage in food. “We must celebrate our cuisines by creating authentic experiences,” he said. As a piece of advise, he asked hotels and restaurants to make their service design unobstrusive to the guests. The objective of hotel business is to delight customers and not challenge them.

Participants in the CEO Forum at PACE 2017 opined that while technology is an enabler, ideal situation is to have a fine mix of technology and human interface in hospitality business. Anuraag Bhatnagar, Multi-property Vice President – Luxury, Marriott, moderated the session. Participating in the discussion, Raj Rana, CEO, Carlson Rezidor Group said that cost of technology is a concern and therefore life cycle is important while investing in technology. Mandeep Lamba observed that hotel industry is playing a waiting game as far as investing in technology is concerned. In the shorter term, technology will be the differentiator for hotels, but there is a reluctance to invest in that technology and be ahead of the curve. Smaller hotels are more adaptive than bigger chains, he added. Taking a different stand, Sanjay Sethi, COO, ITC Hotels observed that the actual differentiator for hotels will not be technology, but other elements like F&B, entertainment, etc. With aggregators like Airbnb selling experiences, traditional hotels have to reinvent themselves and look beyond sheer experiences, said Kapil Chopra, President, Oberoi Hotels.

The GM’s panel was moderated by Arindam Kunar, Area- GM (South India), IHG. While technology will continue to drive the hospitality business, getting the right talent and retaining the talent will pose challenges in coming times as well, he observed. Attrition, the panelists observed, is a phenomenon in all industries, and therefore remuneration alone is not the factor for attrition. Nitesh Gandhi, GM, JW Marriott Aerocity advocated new SOPs for the millennial workforce.

PIHMAA also recognised alumni from the initial batches of the institute who became role models and leaders of the industry later on. The recipients of the Hall of Fame awards included Anil Bhandari, Virender S Datta, Dr Psyche Nigam, Manmohan Singh, KB Kachru, DK Beri, Arun Agarwal, among others.

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